I've be writing here almost every weekday since 2006. That's a lot of posts, a lot of words and a lot of diverse and often quirky topics. Consequently, all sorts of search terms bring people to the blog. So I thought I'd use each Friday to highlight a search term that brought someone the the blog and the post they discovered. My hope is that this will introduce new readers to posts from the archives and long time readers to posts they might have forgotten. I also hope to make you smile by picking a strange search term now and then.
For my part, I'm also curious to revisit old posts to see how well they have held up over the years. I've changed over the last seven years and the blog has as well. It'll be interesting to ponder some of those changes on Fridays.
And so, for our first installment of "Search Term Friday," the following search term brought someone to the blog this week:
calvin and hobbes let's go exploring
That search, as most of you know, linked to the final post from my series The Theology of Calvin and Hobbes. Specifically, the last post in the series where I discuss the final cartoon of the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip (click to enlarge):
In the final post of that series I tried to use the last Calvin and Hobbes strip to make a contrast, borrowing from theologian John Hick, between an Augustinian and an Irenaean theodicy. Here is Hick making the contrast:
There is thus to be found in Irenaeus the outline of an approach to the problem of evil which stands in important respects in contrast to the Augustinian type of theodicy. Instead of the doctrine that man was created finitely perfect and then incomprehensibly destroyed his own perfection and plunged into sin and misery, Irenaeus suggests that man was created as an imperfect, immature creature who was to undergo moral development and growth and finally be brought to the perfection intended for him by his Maker. Instead of the fall of Adam being presented, as in the Augustinian tradition, as an utterly malignant and catastrophic event, completely disrupting God's plan, Irenaeus pictures it as something that occurred in the childhood of the race, an understandable lapse due to weakness and immaturity rather than an adult crime full of malice and pregnant with perpetual guilt. And instead of the Augustinian view of life's trials as a divine punishment for Adam's sin, Irenaeus sees our world of mingled good and evil as a divinely appointed environment for man's development towards the perfection that represents the fulfillment of God's good purpose.In the Theology of Calvin and Hobbes series, given the namesakes of the lead characters, the theological frame had been Augustinian in tone, a meditation on human depravity. And the personality of Calvin gave us ample material for those reflections! But at the end of the series I try to reframe all that in light of the hopeful, open-endedness of the final strip, an attempt to recast the theological vision of Calvin and Hobbes as more Irenaean than Augustinian. Calvin isn't wicked. He's a child. The judgmental Augustinian gloom of Calvinism abates--a finger wagging at total depravity-- and a sympathetic identification takes its place:
So here at the end of this journey, contemplating the final sled ride of Calvin and Hobbes, I cannot help but wonder if we've got it all wrong. The world of Calvin and Hobbes isn't Augustinian at all. It's Irenaean. Specifically, as Hick notes, what we see in Calvin and Hobbes isn't the malice of a depraved adulthood but the stumbling about of childhood immaturity. The view of human nature is dim in Calvin and Hobbes, but dim in a way that suggests movement into God's Future. In short, the final open-ended sled ride of Calvin and Hobbes completely recasts all we've witnessed in the strip. It was a mistake to find Augustinian gloom in Calvin and Hobbes. And we always knew that. There is just too much joy and hope to be found in Calvin and Hobbes. And so here, at the end, we find the key:
The answers await us. God is in our future. Not our past. So don't look back.
Friends, it's a magical world.
Let's go exploring.